Mellon Square Plaza
Mellon Square is an urban park in downtown Pittsburgh. The park is built above a parking garage, and features a distinctive tree-lined black-and-white geometric pavement, water fountains, raised flower beds and a cascading water fountain. Mellon Square Park is one of the city's most prominent gathering spots.
The square occupies an entire city block, bounded by Smithfield Street, William Penn Place, Oliver and Sixth Avenues. It is surrounded by many prominent downtown buildings, including the Oliver Building, 525 William Penn Place, the William Penn Hotel, and the Alcoa Building (Regional Enterprise Tower). In addition to the undergound parking, the Mellon Square complex also houses retail shops along Smithfield Street.
Mellon Square was conceived in the late-1940s. After World War II, the Alcoa Company (American Aluminum Company of America), which was established in the late 19th century with financial backing from the Mellon Family, considered a move to New York. Banker Richard King Mellon aimed to block the move. In 1949 he proposed a new downtown headquarters building for the company, then known as the Alcoa Building and now called the Regional Enterprise Tower.
As a bonus, the Alcoa Building would have a nearby underground parking garage, capped by a public plaza. Mellon Square, built in 1953-55 was paid for by Mellon family foundations. The square was decorated with over 25,000 trees, shrubs and flowers. The nine circular bronze basins for the block-long fountain were, in 1953, the largest ever cast. On September 28, 1953, City Council officially renamed the city block "Mellon Square".
Richard King Mellon's concern over other proposed corporate moves, including Westinghouse and U.S. Steel, prompted further inner city development proposals, including the Gateway Center Complex and the adjacent Point State Park. The stunning expanse of office towers and urban plazas became known as "Mellon's Miracle."
When construction of Mellon Square Plaza was completed, the Mellon family gave the property to the City of Pittsburgh. The square is named in honor Richard Beatty Mellon (1858-1933) and Andrew Mellon (1855-1937). The park was officially dedicated on October 18, 1955. The total cost exceeded $4,500,000 and the underground parking has a capacity of 900 cars.
Today, over half a century after opening, Mellon Square Plaza is still one of Pittsburgh's signature gathering places, a small oasis in the heart of the Central Business District.
Mellon Square Plaza Construction (1953-1955)
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